Today’s librarians must have a wide-ranging skill set to be viable in the job market. According to this snapshot of job postings:
- The number of job postings requiring “job-specific experience” rose from 273 in 2017 to 341 in 2018.
- Job postings that preferred “job specific experience” dropped from 67 in 2017 to 35 in 2018.
- These substantial changes in experience being required vs preferred indicate that employers are shifting to an expectation that applicants will have at least some level of previous, relevant work experience.
It also states:
“These substantial changes in experience being required vs preferred indicate that employers are shifting to an expectation that applicants will have at least some level of previous, relevant work experience.”
Most professional librarian jobs will have some of the following criteria:
- Four-year undergraduate degree.
- MLS degree from an American Library Association (ALA)-accredited school.
- A teaching certificate.
- A second Master’s degree.
As newly-minted information professionals search for their first job, and experienced librarians look for jobs outside of traditional librarianship, they may experience hesitation in their job search. While there is no skillset definitive of every librarian, generally they should be keen on customer service, familiar with digital and physical resources, digitally literate, collaborative, creative and have good communication skills. They may have to have experience in certain software, be familiar with certain principles or have a specific degree or background in a particular subject area. Making your skills transferable to another job in librarianship or in a totally new field is a skill within itself, and one that proves fruitful.
Transferable skills are skills which can be applied to a bevy of situations and are indispensable when it comes to changing careers. Prospective employers need to be confident that a new hire will be able to do the job and do it well. The good news is that you already have a ton of transferable skills that you’ve picked up just by living your life, going to school or working at any job. Transferable skills are not limited to on-the-job experience. If you find yourself lacking, there are things you can do to make your skills relevant to a job you like:
Take a class
As anyone reading this knows, public libraries offer various classes for a variety of skills. Most, if not all are free. They also have subscriptions to software that allows you to strengthen or learn new skills.
Join a group
Meeting new people with similar interests is a great way to pick up new knowledge. Your new group mates may have the experience you need and can assist you in achieving your goals.
Get a mentor
Connecting with someone who has your ideal career is a fantastic way to jump-start your professional prowess. They can give you tips and share anecdotes that may save you from missteps and keep you on a rewarding career path.
Volunteering looks great on any resume. It helps you develop and refine skills that may be new to you. It also makes you more confident and provides you with an opportunity to meet new people.
Cultivate your network
Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are a great way to virtually meet colleagues. You may get opportunities to collaborate and create more skills that you can put on your resume.
Read books, articles, forums or subscribe to relevant podcasts
Learning directly from subject matter experts is a great way to become one.
Join a professional organization
This gives you an advantage over your peers because with meetings, committees and conferences you stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your professional community, keeping you active and informed. It also shows that you are committed to your profession.
Not having the specific skills does not necessarily bar you from getting the job of your dreams. Identifying and highlighting examples of your transferable skills can go a long way. Doing such will give your potential employer assurance that you are the best fit for the job. A lot of employers are looking for talent and potential during the hiring process, and focusing on what you can do instead of what you cannot do may be the difference between you and another job candidate. Skills such as project management, reading comprehension, analytical skills and ability to do research are all skills that can be transferred to any job. Your skill set is ultimately your “bag of tricks” that may be the determining factor between you and another candidate. Make sure you plan accordingly.